Wolf Creek Campground – Josephine County, Oregon

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During a blisteringly hot stretch in July, we had a crazy idea to take our 5 kids gold panning in Southern Oregon.  We left the verdant coolness of the Willamette Valley and headed deeper into the hottest heat spell Oregon’s had in years.  Gold panning can be productive in the Wolf Creek area of Josephine County, so we booked two nights at Wolf Creek Campground, camping near Wolf Creek Inn.

Wolf Creek Inn

When we first drove through the town of Wolf Creek, we immediately noticed the old Wolf Creek Inn.  It was closed for renovations so we couldn’t go inside, and we’d love to visit again just to see this place.  Nearby is a convenience store with ice, wood, gas, and basic amenities.

Camping near Wolf Creek Inn

The Wolf Creek Inn is open for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. In addition, they have rooms for rent.  (Image credit Wolfcreekinn.com)

Historic Wolf Creek Inn

Wolf Creek Inn was built as a stagecoach stop in 1883. It has operated ever since as an inn and restaurant. Once located on the Applegate Trail, now I-5 goes right past and you can stop and see it for yourself.

Wolf Creek Campground

The campground is actually right in town, in Wolf Creek.  This was our first time, in 15 years of camping, that we’ve stayed so near to any population.  Usually we’re middle-of-nowhere campers.  So it was kind of strange for us to have houses just a few hundred feet away.  However, as we drove into the campground, we saw number posts for camping spots and knew we were in the right place.

We’d reserved #13, partly because it was closest to water on the map, and partly because other reviews said it was a good spot.  As it turned out, we were the only campers in the whole campground that night, so we could have chosen anything.  A quick walk around, though, and we were happy to stay at #13.  It’s right on the creek, which was mostly dry in the middle of July (and a very dry year for Oregon).  There was a water pump directly across the road, which my kids thought was amazing.  I guess we’ve stayed in too many campgrounds without water lately!

Reserved site at Wolf Creek Campground near Wolf Creek Inn
Space #13, our reserved spot.  Bookings are through Josephine County.
Campsite 13 – Wolf Creek (the actual creek) is beyond those bushes in the background.
Wolf Creek at Campsite 13.  Pretty much dry, though there was running water at either end (near campsite 12 and the Group site)

As we looked around, we thought campsite #12 was also a really nice choice.  It has more privacy than most of the other campsites and is also right on the creek.  It had water in that portion of the creek and our kids spent a lot of time down there throwing rocks, chasing tiny fish, and gold panning.

Gold panning at Wolf Creek Campground near Wolf Creek Inn

Best of all, for the kids, there was a small playground.  We’ve never stayed anywhere with a playground.  It had a swing, a slide, and a bouncy dinosaur.  That was plenty for my kids, who are used to throwing rocks into circles scratched into the dirt. They were in heaven.

Swings at Wolf Creek Campground - camping near Wolf Creek Inn

These swings creaked in the night breeze, super creepy if you’re easily spooked. But we thought it was kind of a nice sound, and it didn’t bother us.

Camping near Wolf Creek Inn

Night at Wolf Creek Campground

Our first night was very quiet, since it was just us and the friendly camp host.  We could hear the highway, not I-5 but the Lower Wolf Creek Road which went up the hill above the campground.  Our second night we had neighbors, but it was another quiet night.

Wolf Creek camping near Wolf Creek Inn

Our tent, the venerable Big Agnus Big House 6. It sleeps 6 of us very comfortably, with room for our travel crib.

Overall, our stay at Wolf Creek Campround in Josephine County was a good one.  We wouldn’t hesitate to stay there again.  If you’re in to such things, there’s disc golf, a picnic shelter, a swim hole, and an unused baseball diamond.  Lots of poison oak, so be aware and don’t stray off the paths.

The bathrooms are pit toilets, nothing fancy whatsoever.  But there’s electricity at many of the campsites, plus water hookups for RVs.  There’s a dump station, too, for RVs.  Trash service and a very friendly host to make sure everything is stocked and clean.


Things to do nearby

This isn’t an exhaustive list, of course.  We only stayed two days, but we did stumble on Golden, Oregon, a ghost town that is now managed by Oregon State Parks.  Our kids really enjoyed this stop, and we all had fun wandering amongst the old buildings and imagining life “way back when”.

It was blisteringly hot during our trip, and one day we headed south to the Oregon Caves.  Instead of 108 degrees, we enjoyed the natural 42 degrees of the cave, and the air-conditioning of the lodge.

And finally, gold panning, which was supposed to be the focus of our trip.  This didn’t pan out (haha, pun fully intended) with the heat, but we did spend our final afternoon a ways up Wolf Creek with a small sluice and our gold pan.

Gold panning on Wolf Creek

We’ll never know if we caught any gold, because we packed up the carpet (inside the sluice box) to wash and pan at home. And then left it in a bucket at the side of the road by mistake. Oops. But we still had fun and that’s the part we’ll remember most anyway.

Water dogs on Wolf Creek

 

 

Cost per night: $24 via Sunrise Reservations
Amenities: pit toilet, fire ring, picnic table, potable water, electrical hookups, disc golf, playground, RV dump station, picnic shelter, camp host
Our kids ages at the time of visit: 10, 5, and 2 years
Nearby amenities: convenience store just down the road with ice, wood, and gas

 

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OregonOutdoorMama

I’m a middle-aged mom of 3-6 and sometimes more, depending on day. I’m out of shape and usually exhausted. Our favorite summertime activity (and often on dry winter days) is getting outdoors and finding adventure.

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